Guest Operations at the USS Missouri
The Battleship Missouri Amateur Radio Club (BMARC) encourages visiting amateurs to operate KH6BB in "Radio Central," the principal radio compartment on the main deck of the ship. If propagation is right, you will usually find a large number of stations calling KH6BB, as a contact with the ship is considered a real honor. You will need to contact us in advance of your visit, so that we can arrange for a club member to meet you, escort you to Radio Central, and supervise your operation. Don't forget to bring your license (or a photocopy).
Send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org at least several days in advance (preferably longer) letting us know when you'd like to visit. A club member will reply and set up a meeting time and place.
Operating Times, Frequencies, and Equipment
Pearl Harbor is 2500 miles from California and 5000 miles from the East Coast. The best propagation to the mainland is usually in the mid to late afternoon, say from 0000Z (2 PM local time) to 0300Z (5 PM local) when the ship closes to visitors. The best band is usually 20 meters, with 17 meters as an alternate. Sometimes 15 meters is also open, although not too often [as of early 2010]. If you're interested in DX, these same bands are usually open to South America and the entire Pacific Rim at this time as well as the US mainland.
Since the Navy designation for the Missouri is BB-63, we have the vanity call sign KH6BB and our nominal SSB operating frequencies are 14263, 18163, and 21363 kHz (also 24963 and 28463 if conditions warrant). If you're interested in CW, we have a vintage J-38 straight key, Vibroplex bug, and electronic keyer, all in parallel. You may also bring your own key/keyer if you wish. RF equipment varies, but will likely be a Kenwood TS-450 driving an AEA linear amplifier at about 1200W output. We also have a Collins S/Line which may be in operation. The antenna most commonly used is an original Navy HF discone (omnidirectional 10-30 MHz vertical) up on the bow of the ship, installed as part of the ship's refit in the mid 1980's.
KH6BB is also equipped for 2 meter FM. On request we monitor 147.12 KH6JPL as our primary repeater, with 146.78 KH6WO as back-up in case JPL is busy.
QSLs and Websites
We will take care of QSLs for your contacts. KH6BB QSLs 100% on receipt of a self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE). The correct mailing address is the one listed for KH6BB in any database: Callbook, Buckmaster, or QRZ.COM. You may also want to tell your contacts about websites - the BMARC website is www.kh6bb.org, and in addition there is the general website for the ship, www.ussmissouri.org.
Getting to the Ship and into Radio Central
The USS Missouri is moored on the east side of Ford Island in Pearl Harbor, about 300 yards south of the USS Arizona Memorial. - MAP - Ford Island is a naval base and access is restricted. So the base of operations for Missouri visitors is at the USS Arizona parking lot on the east side of Pearl Harbor (enter via Route 99, Kamehameha Highway). You can drive there, or take a bus, shuttle van, etc.
The Arizona Memorial, the USS Missouri, and the USS Bowfin (a WW II submarine also open to visitors) all use the same parking lots. We assume that you (and significant others?) will want to tour the Missouri in addition to operating KH6BB. Unlike the Arizona Memorial which is a national park and open for free, the Missouri receives no government subsidies of any kind (we even pay the Navy for pier rental and electricity), and lives on donations and admissions fees. So we suggest that you buy regular admission tickets to the ship and take the tour(s) [self-guided and/or several guided options].
The ticket office for the Missouri is located near the USS Bowfin. The Missouri is open to visitors from 9:30 AM to 5 PM, every day of the week. Once you have a ticket, you will board a trolley for the short trip over the Ford Island Bridge to the Missouri. Trolleys run about every 15 minutes in each direction. The last trolley back to the Arizona parking lots leaves the Missouri at about 5:05 PM, right after the ship closes. The parking lots themselves close at 6 PM.
A thorough tour of the Missouri can take several hours or more, depending on your level of interest. Then either before or after you tour the ship (probably after, see above), we will arrange to have a club member meet you and escort you to Radio Central (it's not on the regular tour routes currently, but may be later on). The usual meeting point is on the main deck of the ship, near the boarding brow (gangway) where you got on the ship.
If you are solely interested in operating and do not want to visit other parts of the ship, let us know and we probably can make special arrangements.
Visiting the Arizona Memorial and/or USS Bowfin
It is possible to combine visits to the Missouri and the Arizona Memorial and/or the USS Bowfin. Any two of these will take most of a day, and all three can be quite a long day, depending on your interest. If you do combine visits, we strongly suggest visiting the Arizona Memorial first, and getting there as early in the morning as possible. Later on the lines (and the wait) can get quite long. There is somewhat less demand for the Missouri and/or Bowfin, and access is essentially unlimited, so they can be done later in the day with little or no waiting time.